It was an extremely light night on Friday with just two games on the schedule. I’ll give you something on both of them before moving on to some players that might help you in specific categories and on a specific day.
Is going after a win worth the potential hit to goals-against average? This is the decision that Devan Dubnyk owners (such as myself) had to make with the Wild visiting Washington. If you took the gamble, it was worth it, as Dubnyk had a surprisingly easy time stopping 21 of 22 shots in a 2-1 win for the Wild. He also chipped in an assist on Jordan Greenway’s first-period goal. Gotta get those goalie assists in – after all, they count in one of my leagues.
Luke Kunin’s third-period goal turned out to be the game winner and was his first goal in 11 games. The players assisting on the goal have been scoring with more frequency, though. Zach Parise now has points in four consecutive games, while Ryan Donato (two assists on Friday) has been scoring at a point-per-game pace (15 points in 15 games) as a member of the Wild. Donato is owned in only 22 percent of Yahoo leagues, so he’s a clear late-season waiver-wire option if you need one.
Brett Connolly scored the lone goal for the Capitals, his career-high 21st of the season. Connolly now has seven points in his last five games. The Capitals play on a Sunday where many head-to-head leaguers will be trying to stack their rosters in an attempt to advance to next week, so you know that Connolly (19 percent owned in Yahoo) will be a popular streaming pickup.
Jakob Silfverberg buried the winner 38 seconds into overtime to give the Ducks a 4-3 win over the Sharks. The goal gave Silfverberg (who has one of the most difficult names for me to type) a three-point night. A player who has been hot and cold all season, Silfverberg now has 13 points (7g-6a) over his last 11 games. He has just 14 assists on the season, which might explain why he’s only owned in less than 30 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Silfverberg’s linemate Rickard Rakell also had a three-point night, including two goals (12th and 13th this season). Rakell is looking at a huge dropoff this season from 69 points last season to possibly finishing with around 40-45 points. Over his last 11 games, he has turned it up a bit with 10 points over that span. His low goal total can be explained by a low 6.4 shooting percentage, about half of what his career average is. Look for Rakell to be a possible rebound candidate next season that you could probably draft as a value pick.
Yanni Gourde was suspended two games for an illegal check to the head of Jordan Staal. The suspension means that Gourde will miss both Saturday’s game against St. Louis and Monday’s game against Boston. Gourde has collected 15 PIM over the last two games, so he may be missed as much for that category as for his scoring. Fortunately, Staal was able to return to the game after leaving the game briefly to be examined.
Stepping away from fantasy and into real-life hockey, which can be stranger than fantasy. Case in point…
So Eugene Melnyk just called me “bush league” on the air. So there’s that….
— Ian Mendes (@ian_mendes) March 22, 2019
All teams seem to have a certain level of dysfunctionality, some more than others. Then there's the Ottawa Senators, whose owner takes it to a whole new level.
If you’re trying to win in roto league, it’s important to look at which categories that you can most easily make ground on. In assessing your roster, you’ll want to look at how many spots you can move up in a particular category. Don’t forget about categories where your lead is small and opponents could easily make up ground on you. In contrast, it’s probably also time to ignore categories that you’re not likely to move up or down much, if at all. With just two weeks left to go, this could mean adds and drops that you normally wouldn’t consider.
On my roto team this season, I’ve focused a lot on scoring categories, simply because they are the easiest to assess value. However, I’ve done so at the expense of non-scoring categories such as hits and blocked shots. With two weeks to go, I’ve got a real opportunity to add a few roto points, which I hope will be enough to win a championship in this league. I am currently third, just three points out of first. Just seven points separate the top five teams in the league, so it could go right down to the wire. Perhaps I should have done this sooner, but I’ll be honest in saying I’ve focused too much on my head-to-head leagues until now.
Ryan Reaves (hits)
If you need hits, then Reaves is a guy to target. He’s on pace for his first 20-point season, which isn’t saying much. However, the physical Vegas winger currently leads the NHL with 281 hits. In fact, Reaves has dished over 200 hits in each of the last six seasons, dating back to the 2013-14 season when he was a member of the Blues. Over that span, only Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck have a higher hit total. This season, only Martin, Mark Borowiecki, and William Carrier have a higher hits-per-game total (Carrier is currently injured). If your league counts penalty minutes, then Reaves is also worth consideration, as he has hit triple-digit penalty minutes four times.
Andy Greene (blocked shots)
Kris Russell has been that guy in recent years, but he’s already owned in my league. Fortunately, the league leader in blocked shots (196) is still available, and I’ve been plugging him in whenever possible recently (for example, over Shayne Gostisbehere on Thursday). In fact, only Russell has more blocked shots over the past five seasons than Greene. (Russell leads this by a wide margin.) The Devils’ captain offers little else in fantasy, including relatively low penalty minute and hit totals. He has, however, hit 30 points twice in his career and could come close to that total this season (23 points) on a team that is playing out the string.
At this point, it’s also worth it to get rid of some of the dead weight on your roster, whether you need to improve in a category, increase your number of available games this week, or simply add the hot stick. Move on from marginal players that either are in a perpetual day-to-day injury status, or have gone five, six, seven, or more games without a point. Here are a couple of names that I decided to part with recently for the latter reason.
I’ll admit that someone on Twitter got the ball rolling by asking me whether he should drop Dubois. My first inclination was no, but soon after I realized that I would have to drop someone myself with Vladimir Tarasenko returning this week. That player turned out to be Dubois, who after Thursday is now without a point in his last 11 games. We did warn you that Dubois could lose value when we broke down the Matt Duchene trade, and that’s exactly what happened. The slump is no coincidence, as Dubois’ icetime is down about three minutes per game since the trade.
If Duchene moves on after the season, then Dubois should be the first-line center again, assuming that the Jackets don’t find another center with all the cap room they might find themselves with. I like Dubois enough that I made a very high bid (and eventually lost) in my auction keeper league this past offseason. So this suggestion shouldn't apply to those in keeper leagues. In a single-season league, though, you’re safe to move on from him.
Bailey is normally a reliable option for assists and overall point totals. As expected, his point total slid as a result of John Tavares departing, but he was still good for 35 assists and 50 points for the third consecutive season. However, he has fallen on hard times recently, with no points over his last eight games. The Islanders as a team are having trouble scoring at the moment, as they have been shut out in back-to-back games. Bailey has never scored 20 goals in a season, which means it shouldn’t be a big surprise that he hasn’t scored a goal in his last 12 games and just one goal over his last 17 games.
As mentioned earlier, Sunday will be a big day for many roto leaguers out there. So to give you a head start, here are some possible waiver-wire options that will be active on Sunday.
Brett Connolly – 4 goals and 3 assists in last 5 games (see above)
Lars Eller – If Connolly isn’t available, you can add his linemate, who has 11 points in his last 15 games
Vinnie Hinostroza – Without a point in his last three games after a hat trick, but he’s as good as any Coyotes’ forward at the moment
Lawson Crouse – Without a point in his last eight games, but he’s a hits king if you need one (second this season only to the above-mentioned Reaves)
Micheal Ferland – Scoring really depends on who the linemates are, but he can help with peripherals such as hits and penalty minutes
Andrei Svechnikov – Has five points in his last five games and is making a run for 40 points in his rookie season
Brendan Perlini – A popular add at the start of the week, he has had a great March (eight goals in nine games)
David Savard – If you need a defenseman, he has three points and nine shots in his last four games
For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.